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Is Toyota’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Mazda’s?

Things to remember...
  • SUVs are one of the most popular car categories in the world. With development, the manufacturers have developed different sizes for these vehicles.
  • The Insurance Institue for Highway Safety is a company formed in 1959 when it started operating as a non-profit car safety tester.
  • Mazda CX-3 is one of the latest innovations that came from this Japanese giant of the auto industry
  • Toyota RAV 4 has been one of the main products that Toyota Corporation has used to stay active in the SUV market.

Sports Utility Vehicles have been around for the greater part of the 20th century, and they took control of many markets in the world in the 2000s.

Currently, they account for sixty percent of all the vehicles driven in the United States. Even though there is a stereotyped size a typical SUV should have, these vehicles still endured variations that give birth to small, mid-size, and large models.

As far as the smaller end of the spectrum, compact SUVs can provide a lot of power packed in a minor body that is almost non-reflective of a traditional SUV. Make sure you compare rates with our free quote tool above! 

Regardless, there are still half a dozen seats available, and one can sometimes implement the third row instead of the cargo area.

The speed these models achieve is quite notable as they are not built in the manner of race cars, but basic family-oriented automobiles.

Since there is a common theme of failing safety whenever a manufacturer decides to spend tons of capital on modernizing and differentiating their vehicle, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) must jump in to independently assess the vehicle’s safety.

This way, all the producers are forced to put safety in their primary objectives, whereas any other criteria for improvement will take a back seat.

Table of Contents

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

As a company that is no new-comer to the market of vehicles, the Institute operates out of Virginia where it has a high-tech center with the latest tools and gadgets to quantify safety.

It breaks down every vehicle’s performance into three main categories that are crashworthiness, crash prevention, and child anchors.

Of course, the standards are not that simple as every category is broken down into many more sub-areas that are evaluated. For example, the crashworthiness contains all of the following tests:

  • Small Driver and Passenger Overlap Test
  • Moderate Overlap Test
  • Roof’s strength-to-weight Ratio
  • Side Impact
  • Head and Neck Restraints

The grades for this test can be good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Vehicles that show a great ability to maintain the survival space, have high roof strength and showcase good airbag deployment will usually score well in the test.

Those who come short of any of those are risking losing the “good” grade.

Similarly, crash prevention is based on the forward warning, 12-mph, and 25-mph collision test.

The grades for this category are superior, advanced, and basic. Vehicles that avoid a crash will be given the superior status, while those that cannot do so will only be basic.

Mazda CX-3 Versus Toyota RAV4

With a comparison of these two Japanese creations, there is not a lot of room for either model to dominate, as they are both above the average.


The scores in all five tests were almost the same across the board. The only difference came in the passenger test for Toyota RAV 4.

To their credit, the Institute has only invented this test a few weeks ago, which means no manufacturer really had enough time to address the problem.

The small overlap passenger was lacking for the Mazda vehicle and one can debate if a missing score is better than a poor score. Fortunately, the rest of the tests were completed very efficiently and all “good” scores were handed by the reviewers.

Both models were at or above the five-point threshold to make their roof stand out, and the survival space was maintained well without any danger from intrusion.

Airbag deployment also ensured dummy’s head did not slide off in between the bags or anything of similar, potent nature.

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Crash Prevention & Mitigation

With crashworthiness out of the way, and both models starting off well, crash prevention comes in to attempt and make a distinguished leader.

Regardless, both models tied once more with a superior rating for their collisions avoidance and mitigation abilities.

Toyota has very moderately outperformed the Mazda model with a full speed reduction in the 25-mph test, as opposed to CX-3’s 23 mph test.

Nonetheless, obtaining the superior score means the capabilities are undebatable.

Another part of the crash prevention test was a headlight review. Mazda possessed three different variations while Toyota only had two. Moreover, RAV 4 struggled with some glare when the headlights were pointed forward.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

To ensure that one driver is declared a winner, the last test showed the abilities of a car to host a child seat anchor.

This is one of the most important features that an SUV should have, and scores possible are the same as in crashworthiness.

Toyota achieved a good rating while Mazda only had an acceptable grade. One of the reasons is because of the depth of the anchor that proved to be too far and out-of-reach.

2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+

To qualify for the highest possible award given by the Institute, a vehicle must possess all good scores for crashworthiness, superior or advanced crash prevention, and good or acceptable headlights.

Luckily, both cars have met all of these standards and subsequently got the Top Safety Pick Plus recognition.

The Winner

The comparison between these vehicles came close. There is no way to declare an official winner before discussing other qualitative factors such as insurance.

All the cars driven in the United States must be insured or one is exposed themselves to a liability and even jail time.

People should take full advantage of websites that promote all the companies with affordable quotes.

A decent number of these websites will even put them in a comparative manner that helps one see what the current scores are.

As far as the winner, once again, it is almost impossible to declare one. Toyota came with high-quality seat anchors that were dominant to those around, but it had a poor score for the passenger side safety that Mazda did not even show.

Due to this, one could say that Toyota subtly won with a couple of areas that could be improved. Don’t miss out on our free quote tool below! Just enter your zip code and start comparing rates now!


  1. http://www.iihs.org/
  2. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/crash-testing-and-crashworthiness/topicoverview
  3. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/front-crash-prevention-tests
  4. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/LATCH-evaluation
  5. https://www.toyota.com/rav4/
  6. https://www.mazdausa.com/vehicles/cx-3
  7. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/ratings-info/headlight-evaluation
  8. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/TSP-List
  9. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/toyota/rav4-4-door-suv/2018?print-view
  10. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/mazda/cx-3-4-door-suv/2017?print-view

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